Knowledge is Power

Top of the day, folks

In the spirit of our business that ‘Knowledge is Power’, this month we have a list of Q&As that may help clarify situations that come up from time to time.  

What’s the difference between a competitive energy supplier, an aggregator and broker?
A competitive energy supplier provides the electricity or natural gas that you use in your home or business. An aggregator, shops for competitive energy suppliers for you and can enter into an agreement on your behalf to buy energy from a competitive energy supplier. A broker solicits energy supply rates and mediates the rate and term that best suit the needs of the consumer. It is the consumer who executes the agreement with the supplier.

Does anything change when I enroll with a third-party supplier? 
You will still be a customer of your electric or natural gas utility for the delivery to your home or business. The utility is responsible for restoring power or gas if there is an outage. You can receive one bill, called consolidated billing, from the utility for both the delivery and the energy. Or you may receive two bills, one from the utility for the delivery of the electricity/gas and the other from the competitive energy supplier. 

Will I still receive reliable service?
Yes. In fact, there is no difference from the utility-provided service versus the third party. What happens is a change of ownership of the commodity; the third-party supplier takes over from the utility.

Who do I call if the power/natural gas goes out?
By law, it is the utility’s responsibility to restore service with no changes in priority.

If I choose a competitive energy supplier, am I guaranteed to save money?
No, there is no guarantee that buying your electricity/natural gas from a competitive energy supplier will save you money. However, our data shows that most do over time.

Fixed prices, variable prices – what’s the difference?
A fixed price offer is one where the price per kWh or therm will be the same each month for the contract term.  With a variable price offer, the price per kWh or therm may vary from month to month based on the wholesale (open-market) price of electricity and natural gas. 

Can I sign up for 100% renewable electricity?
Technically no, the composition of the electricity (natural gas, wind, solar, hydro…) is what the grid offers regardless of who supplies it. The ‘workaround’ is that one can purchase renewable electric certificates (CERTS) that promote renewable initiatives such as wind and solar farms. A CERT represents 1,000 kWhs of renewable power.

What is “swing” for natural gas?
Natural gas suppliers use historical monthly or daily volume to set fixed components in their pricing and any variance above or below the contracted amount - “swing” - is settled in the market. The tolerance levels can range from 0% to 100%. The 0% requirement is defined as any volume variance from the contracted volume; that is settled either in the daily or monthly market. The 10% requirement holds the fixed price component within a 10% volume variance in either direction of the contracted amount. The 100% requirement, on the other hand, is NO price change regardless of volume.

Do I have to notify the electric or natural gas utility if I change suppliers?
No. Your competitive energy supplier will notify the utility for you.

How long does it take to switch my energy supplier?
Whether there is a change to an energy supply service or changing back to the utility, the change will occur at the time of your next meter read, provided the request to change is received by the utility the required number of days in advance of your next meter read date.  

Are competitive energy suppliers regulated?
The Public Utility Commissions have established consumer protection requirements that competitive energy suppliers must follow. The prices offered by these suppliers are not regulated.

What happens if my competitive energy supplier is unable to continue to provide me with energy service? 
Your energy service will automatically transfer to the energy service provided by the utility. Your lights or gas will not go out, and there will be no penalty or fee.  

Can I end my contract with my energy supplier if I’m not satisfied?
You can always cancel your contract with your competitive energy supplier. There may be a fee if you cancel your contract before a certain date. Review your agreement with your competitive energy supplier to see if there are any penalties or early termination charges for cancellation.

Please let us know if there is a topic that requires a more thorough answer. We’re here to help lower your energy costs without spending any capital.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Energy!